The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced today it will tighten its nomination standards for the original song category.

The Acad also announced its testimonial honorees — Thalberg, humanitarian and honorary awards — will no longer be awarded during the live kudocast, but during a separate dinner event held several months prior to the awards show.

These changes come just days after it was announced the best picture category has been expanded to 10 nominees — the first time since 1943 — and are likely a result of pressure the Academy has been under to overhaul the annual telecast.

According to the Acad, if no original song achieves a minimum average score of 8.25, no award will be given in that category. If only one song achieves the required minimum, then it and the next highest-scored song will receive nods. However, the five-nominee cap still applies.

Academy prexy Sid Ganis addressed the second change as a “desire to truly honor worthy individuals,” much like the Acad’s technical awards, which are awarded prior to the telecast but announced during.

Complete rules for all categories can be viewed at http://www.oscars.org/rules.

Academy’s official release:

Beverly Hills, CA — The governors of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences approved the rules for the 82nd Academy Awards at their June meeting last week (6/23).  

The most significant change was made in the Music – Original Song category.   

In the original song category, the governors approved the Music Branch Executive Committee recommendation that if no song achieves a minimum average score of 8.25 in the nominations voting, there be no nominees and thus no Oscar presented for the category.  

If only one song achieves the required minimum, it and the song with the next highest score will be deemed the nominees. If two or more songs achieve the minimum score, they will be the nominees though no more than five nominees can be selected.  

Previously, the rules dictated that there be no more than five but no fewer than three nominees in the category.   

In addition and as previously announced, the Best Picture category will have ten nominees instead of five and the Testimonial Awards (the Irving G. Thalberg Award, the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award and the Honorary Award) will be presented at an event in November of this year, separate from the televised Oscar presentation in March 2010.   

Other modifications of the rules include normal date changes and minor “housekeeping” changes.   

Complete rules for all categories can be viewed online at http://www.oscars.org/rules.   

Rules are reviewed annually by individual branch and category committees.  

The Awards Rules Committee then reviews all proposed changes before presenting its recommendations to the Academy’s Board of Governors for approval.   

Academy Award® nominations in all categories will be announced on February 2, 2010.  

The 82nd Academy Awards presentation will be telecast live by the ABC Television Network on Sunday, March 7, 2010.